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Plastic waste streams grow with consumption levels Recycling plastic saves on natural resources. It also helps to reduce the negative environmental impacts caused by plastic waste, including the pollution of terrestrial and marine environments. To achieve these benefits, recycled materials and products must replace the use of virgin raw materials, while the environmental impacts of the recycling process need to be minimised. The recycling of plastics is hampered by the many different types of plastic in use. Another challenge is that plastic waste collected from consumers is often dirty, and may also contain hazardous substances.

Textile circulation The production and consumption of textiles burden the environment due to factors including the consumption of energy and water. Environmentally harmful chemicals may also be used in textile production. The consequent environmental loads can be reduced by promoting the reuse and recycling of textiles and textile waste. To speed up such recycling, new actions, operators and incentives are needed. There is especially a need for businesses who could utilise textile waste in their products, while demand for such products must also be nurtured. The amounts of textile waste need to be reduced. Consumers should be educated to prefer recycled, durable and repairable textiles. Reuse could be promoted by services including textile libraries, rentals and leasing.

Flows of consumed and discarded textiles in Finland in 2012, tonnes/year (Dahlbo et al. 2015). About 20% of discarded textile products were taken into reuse or recycled through separate collections run by charitable organisations. The remaining 80% ended up in mixed waste, which was largely incinerated to generate energy.

The circular economy in the food chain – phosphorus flows in the Lake Pyhäjärvi area Nutrient recycling is an important element of the circular economy in the food sector. The Finnish Environment Institute has studied this issue in Southwest Finland. This region has many farms, as well as sizeable industrial facilities producing foodstuffs. The region’s largest phosphorus flows pass through the local food processing plants. Most of the phosphorus that enters these facilities remains in soil and waste crop residues, which are composted and sold on as soil improvement products. Wastewater sludge from treatment plants in Eura and Säkylä, and the phosphorus it contains, are used to produce biogas production and composted soil improvement products. These phosphorus flows do not directly influence the state of Lake Pyhäjärvi. Phosphorus inputs in the lake’s catchment area include animal feed and mineral fertilisers; while phosphorus leaves the area in agricultural products, fish catches, and chicken manure used by fertiliser producers. A net surplus of about 13 tonnes of phosphorus is generated overall by these different flows. Part of this surplus ends up in Lake Pyhäjärvi. The ecological status of the lake is currently rated on the borderline between good and moderate. For the lake to achieve permanent good status, continuous water protection work will be needed to reduce phosphorus inputs. Different circular economy processes have important role to achieve this goal.

Phosphorus flows in Lake Pyhäjärvi and its surroundings (tonnes/year). The data is based on local food industry production figures and the numbers of animals on farms in the lake’s catchment area.

S TAT E O F T H E E N V I R O N M E N T R E P O RT 2 / 2 017 | 2 . 6 . 2017

Shifting from a linear economy to a circular economy  

STATE OF THE ENVIRONMENT REPORT 2 | 2017

Shifting from a linear economy to a circular economy  

STATE OF THE ENVIRONMENT REPORT 2 | 2017